Cal Poly Baseball remains tied for first place in the Big West Conference after winning a weekend series against Hawai’i 2-1 from May 3-5 inside Robin Baggett Stadium.
After nearly squandering an early 3-0 lead, Cal Poly (22-22, 12-3 Big West) took the opening game with a 12-4 win.
Cal Poly’s bats got off to a solid start, putting up three runs in the first four innings. In the second inning, junior catcher Myles Emmerson smoked a pitch into left field that brought freshman designated hitter Conagher Sands across to go up 1-0.
Sophomore right fielder Elijah Greene added on in the third inning with an RBI off of a ground ball to second base for a 2-0 lead.
Sands hit a ball into left in the forth inning, bringing in a run to extend the lead to 3-0.
Meanwhile, freshman pitcher Chase Watkins only allowed two hits going into the fifth inning. Then, a sacrifice fly, a 2-run single and a wild pitch gave Hawai’i a 4-3 lead and Cal Poly brought in sophomore pitcher Taylor Dollard, who got out of the inning.
Cal Poly tied the game the following inning due to a Hawai’i throwing error that tied the game at 4-4.
In the sixth inning, things got interesting. With the 5-4 lead, Emmerson came up clutch again. Emmerson laid down a bunt that brought in sophomore third baseman Nick DiCarlo to increase the lead to 6-4. More sloppy play from Hawai’i lead to another run for Cal Poly off of a fielder’s choice, putting the score at 7-4.
After two shutout innings out of the bullpen, Cal Poly pulled Dollard for senior pitcher Michael Clark.
At the plate, Cal Poly’s bats stayed red hot. Sands and Emmerson both drove in another run respectively. A late solo home run by sophomore first baseman Tate Samuelson and the score stood at 12-4 Cal Poly.
Clark was excellent out of the bullpen once again, only allowing two hits over 2.1 innings and earned his seventh save of the year.
The Mustangs held onto a one-run lead through four innings to clinch their series over Hawai’i with a 3-2 victory on May 4. Junior righthander Bobby Ay earned his seventh win of the season while Michael Clark collected his eighth save.
“I think we played really well,” Ay said. “Our offense came through when we needed to, which was huge. It was a constant battle out there from both sides, so it was good.”
Cal Poly were the first to score on a hit and an error in the bottom of the second inning. Tate Samuelson advanced to third on a wild pitch after registering a double to left center field. Samuelson then crossed home plate on a throwing error by Hawai’i’s third-baseman.
The Rainbow Wahine responded in the next frame with two runs of their own on three hits. After Hawai’i registered two singles, Ethan Lopez followed up with a 2 RBI double down the left field line to grant Hawai’i a 2-1 lead.
However, the Mustangs went on to equalize in the bottom of the inning. Junior center fielder Bradley Beesley RBI singled to left field to drive in freshman shortstop Connor Gurnik, who was in scoring position after being hit by a pitch.
The Mustangs closed out their win with a RBI double to left field by Nick DiCarlo. DiCarlo’s RBI drove in Conagher Sands, who extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a single in the fifth inning. Sands hitting streak of 18 games was the longest of any Cal Poly player in the last six years.
“We’ve just got to keep winning,” Ay said. “If you want to stay in the hunt, we’ve got to keep winning these games like this. We have to take advantage of sweep opportunities.”
Ay (7-0) remained undefeated on the mound after allowing just eight hits and two runs over six innings. Clark (Sv, 8) earned the save for closing out the last 2.2 innings with two hits and one walk. Hawai’i rallied late in the ninth inning and put two runners on base before Clark retired the final batter for the victory.
“They’ve learned how to win in conference, that’s the most important thing,” head coach Larry Lee said. “They’re not concerned with individual stats or accolades. That’s a good thing, their selflessness allows them to compete.”
Cal Poly failed to completed the sweep of Hawai’i, losing 4-1
The Rainbow Warriors got out to an early lead after an RBI single off starting lefthander sophomore Andrew Alvarez to go up 1-0 in the top of the first inning.
Cal Poly did not score until the fourth inning, when Emmerson stayed scalding hot and singled up the middle to drive in Sands to tie the game up at 1-1.
Hawai’i scored three more runs in the fifth inning off of an RBI double that was followed by a two-run single to go up 4-1.
After that, the studs of Cal Poly’s bullpen, Dollard and Clark, once again halted the Rainbow Warriors offense by pitching a combined 4.2 scoreless innings.
However, Cal Poly’s bats went cold despite threatening late in the bottom of the ninth.
After the game Dollard, who had actually been playing through illness this series, commented on what he feels has lead to his recent stretch of dominance.
“I’ve just been working hard to keep getting better everyday and just using the other guys on the team as motivation to keep getting better,” Dollard said.
According to Dollard, the team feels like there was several positives in the series against Hawai’i, but remains focused on finishing the season strong.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position and hopefully we put ourselves in a position to come away with a Big West title,” Dollard said. “We’re always looking to sweep, but I mean we want to win as many games as we can and put ourselves in good position against UC Santa Barbara at the end of the year.”